Imagine starting work with a new employer, and in your induction training they hand you occupational health and safety (OHS) information that is written in a language that you barely understand. This is unfortunately the case for many Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) employees, who are particularly vulnerable to workplace safety incidents.

WorkSafe Victoria previously developed a workplace safety campaign for CALD employees with little to no English proficiency, but they had not yet conducted research with employers on this topic. With ISCRR as a research broker, WorkSafe commissioned ORIMA Research to conduct qualitative research with employers of CALD workers to inform the ongoing strategic approach of WorkSafe’s CALD campaign.

ORIMA outlined a four-phase model to employers effectively communicating OHS information to CALD employees, which included:

1 – Employers becoming educated about how to communicate OHS to CALD employees.

2 – Identifying English proficiency and communication needs.

3 – Communicating OHS with CALD employees.

4 – Systematically confirming employees understood OHS information.

To communicate OHS information effectively to CALD employees, action is required at each of the four key communication phases. However, most employers were only acting at one or two of these phases, in an incomplete, ad-hoc and inconsistent manner.

Employers identified a range of resources that could be provided to CALD employees to aid in the communication of OHS information.

[A phone line] is a great idea. There’s no substitute for having a live conversation in their own language” – Large employer, manufacturing industry, CALD background

Overall, the research found there is a need to engage with employers to increase the relevance and importance of communicating OHS information with CALD employees.

  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2013-14 Work-related injuries data.